Skip to main content

A Problem of Paper (or Paper, we don't need no stinking papers)

Ok, this has been an interesting kind of converse experiment, and an unintended one too. What had happened was this, I had a book that I had purchased, a paper printed book, that had been sitting on my shelf for quite a while that I started to read the other day. Now the resulting experience has been a surprise to me. I normally read over 100 books a year, but for at least the last four years none of the novels or other tradebooks that I've read has been on paper, instead they have all been through electronic means. Which does mean that I've become very comfortable with my ereader (usually my Kindle) as a method of reading.  And I know that more and more people are reading text from screens, but that includes things like google search results and email. Even my students have commented that once they start noticing much of what they read is on the screen, but for most of them pleasure reading is still something done with paper.

As a proponent of differentiation I do try to get ebook users to play with their controls and find the Goldilocks spot for things like the light level, font, text size, and margins to where their ebook experience is the most comfortable. That comfort is what I find that I'm missing with printed book experience.

So what is making it uncomfortable? I'll start with the weight, I've gotten very used to my Kindle that weight only about half a pound (just checked and it is only 7.2 oz, but I've got a cover too), while the hard cover book that I'm reading is about 20 oz, not really weighty but is noticeable while holding. Next has been the double page format, I don't like to crack the spine, so I'm holding open two pages when I'm only reading one of them, so I feel like there is this extra appendage sheet sitting off to the side.  Then a big thing is the font size, over on the left you can see that the print font size is about 3mm, while the ebook size on the right that I'm comfortable with is much closer to 5mm. This difference has induced noticeable strain, along with how I'm constantly have to move the light closer so that I can read (no internal illumination system for paper), and if I'm reading someplace without a movable light, I'm having to adjust my position so that the light can better reach the page. I will admit that this factor may be a personal age/eye aspect. I just hadn't realized that I've moved into the large print book phase of my life until I was reading the standard paper print.  In addition to those issues already mentioned, the pages keep moving or sometimes not. It is summer and the ceiling fans are on, so as I put the book down on a surface to read from the wind keeps moving pages, so that if I'm not holding them down, they move on before I've finished (or move back), and then for pages that stick, apparently my fingers no longer have enough friction to separate them easily so sometimes there has been that loss of flow as the bottom of one page doesn't match up to the next (because it isn't the next, it is two pages later. Then too has been my book mark which keeps falling out of the book.

So for myself I've gotten used to books that remember where I stopped, that I can prop up and read a page that will not move till I swipe it, fonts that are comfortable with shape and size, and an internal light that lets me read pretty much anywhere. For those that say they can't switch to an ebook because they would miss the feel, I can personally say I'm not missing the eye strain.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ebooks as Textbooks - Part 2 - Highlighting

Highlighting can be a very effective tool in reading and learning no matter the kind of text being read: from novels to textbooks.

Most textbooks or other forms of information text will usually used text features along with graphics to help organize information presented in the text.  These elements are done to help focus attention on important or key concepts and provide additional information. The text organization itself can include structural elements such as heading, subheading, index, glossary, paragraph spacing, bulleted or numbered lists, sidebars or side boxes, italics, underlines or bold for words or even sections. Graphic content can include the use of symbols, colors, illustrations, pictures, diagrams, charts, and graphs.
The act of highlighting is less time consuming and much easier than note-taking (to be discussed in an upcoming posting). To be effective in highlighting it should be a kind of metacognitive approach of sifting or filtering to identify the important content…

Google Maps

An exciting time today, as I was riding my bike to work, I saw the Google Maps Car driving by. You may be wondering what the Google Maps car has to do with ebooks, but often books have maps and Google Books has lots of books with Google Maps developed from extracting the locations from the text. This kind of mapping got me so excited that myself and Jerome Burg wrote a book on using digital mapping with books. But the car reminded me that these maps are out there just waiting for you to start using them. For example if you go to Google Books, and you are reading Vern's Around the World in 80 Days, look in the About this Book section, and then scroll down to see if the book has a Places mentioned in this book... component.

In one class I copied the map from Google Books and then we put it on the wall, so that as we read the book, we tracked where we were in the story on the wall map. One warning though, for some reason the books with maps in Google Books seems to randomly change fr…

The darkside of textbooks

This may illustrate what could (and most likely will) be the darkside of opensource digital textbooks. Any individual or small group could create a textbook and make it digitally available, but it could either be slanted to a certain view or not include information that an author disagreed with. Yes, teachers should be able to supplement information provided by the textbook to provide a better picture of the actual situation, but that too has issues. For many teachers, the textbook is the curriculum. For example, in science classrooms, teachers have been known to rely heavily on textbooks (Driscoll, Moallem, Dick, & Kirby, 1994).  The textbook, often a critical part of developing the curriculum for a school, and has relegated the teacher to occupy more of a passive role in the planning process.

Historically, published curriculum materials, such as textbooks, have been the main component for teaching in the US (Goodlad, 1984).  These textbooks provided a variety of aspects of the e…